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Tracking sperm whales and jumbo squid

tags first appeared on the surface, all three squid had to have moved from the Santa Rosalia fishing grounds right through the area where the whales were patrolling," he said.

As for diving behavior, the majority (91 percent) of sperm whale dives recorded during the study ranged from 300 to 1,600 feet below sea level and were 15 to 30 minutes in duration. Only 13 dives (3 percent) exceeded 3,200 feet.

These results closely mirrored the diving data collected from the squid. "Tagged squid in our study occupied the 100-500 meter [300 to 1,600-foot] zone, the same region to which the whales dove over 90 percent of the time, consistent with the idea that whales were primarily preying on jumbo squid of large body size," the authors wrote. "Whales did occasionally dive beyond 500 meters, especially during daytime when the squid were deep, and we assume these also represent foraging dives."

Night and day

During the day, whales and squid spent about 75 percent of the time at depths ranging from 600 to 1,300 feet, which is "consistent with the idea that the whales were foraging where the probability of encountering squid was highest," the authors wrote. At night, however, the tagged squid spent at least half of their time in shallower waters above 600 feet and the remainder at 600 to 1,300 feet. One likely explanation for this vertical movement is that the squid were following small fish and other prey that migrate toward the surface at night and then return to deeper waters during the day.

Unlike squid, however, the sperm whales did not alter their diving pattern at night. Instead, they continued to spend about three-fourths of their time at depths of 600 to 1,300 feet, according to nocturnal tagging data.

"These data show that sperm whales don’t change their feeding behavior, day or night," Davis explained. "Instead, they keep going down to about 1,300 feet, whether squid are there or not. Perhaps it’s the
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Source:Stanford University


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